What are the treatment options for breast cancer?

Breast cancer treatment in india, treatment of breast cancer in india, breast cancer treatment india

Verified By: Dr. Donald John Babu (MBBS, MS, FCPS, MCh - Surgical Oncology, MRCS (UK), FICS) | Updated On March 4, 2020

Planning for your breast cancer treatment in India:

We have been guiding patients for their treatment in India for almost a decade and hence we have been associated with the best hospitals & surgeons for breast cancer treatment in India. We can ensure that you get proper medical services for breast cancer treatment in India while keeping the cost of treatment affordable and cheap. The cost of breast cancer treatment in India is USD 4000 – 4500 that includes cancer diagnosis, treatment, medications & accommodation.

The table below shows the detailed cost of treatments used for breast cancer:

PET Scan Chemotherapy Radiation Therapy Hormonal Therapy Surgery Average Cost
$250
$300 – $480
$2800
$2800
$2200 – $3000
$4000

What is the cost of accommodation in India?

When planning for treatment in India you also need to consider additional costs such as hotel stay, food, etc but we provide you with service apartments at an affordable cost and also ensure you in finding out the best hospital in India for breast cancer treatment.

NOTE: Service apartments are unavailable due to COVID – 19

Days In Hospital Cost of Stay In Hotel (USD) Cost of Service Apartments (USD) Total duration of stay
3 Days
$40 – $50 per day
$35 per day
20 Days

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Overview:

The treatment of breast cancer involves the removal of cancerous cells in the breasts through the use of multiple treatment procedures. This may also involve the removal of the breast which is called mastectomy. As the technology is getting advanced it brings in more and more treatments to cure breast cancer completely.

The treatment plan that is advised to you is based on your diagnosis and is unique to your condition. The aim, however, is to destroy your cancer cells and make sure cancer doesn’t recur.

What are the treatment options for breast cancer?

The treatment plan usually involves surgery, followed by radiation therapy and then hormonal therapy followed by chemotherapy. Your breast cancer treatment plan will be prepared depending on your diagnosis and breast cancer stage, in which one or two phases in your treatment may be eliminated.

Surgery:

The type of breast cancer surgery you need to undergo depends upon the stage of breast cancer you are in and the personality of your cancer. The decision will have to be made after comparing the available options, weighing the benefits and risks and considering the quality of life you will have to lead after your treatment.

  • Lumpectomy or breast-conserving surgery: In this procedure, only the tumour is removed along with a  few surrounding tissues from the breast.
  • Mastectomy: Mastectomy is a surgical procedure in which the breast tissue is completely removed. With time this procedure has become more refined and less intrusive. In most cases, the doctors do not remove the muscles under the breast.
  • Sentinel node biopsy: This type of surgery removes a few of the lymph nodes that receive drainage from the tumour so that a test can be conducted to find whether the nodes are free of cancer. If they do not have cancer, then no additional surgery will be conducted to remove more lymph nodes.
  • Axillary lymph node dissection: If cancer is found in the lymph nodes after the biopsy, your doctor may remove additional lymph nodes to prevent the spread of cancer.
  • Contralateral prophylactic mastectomy: This surgery involves the removal of both the breasts to reduce the risk of developing breast cancer in the future. Even though cancer may be present in only one breast, some women opt to have a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy.

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Radiation Therapy: 

Post-surgery radiation therapy is the use of powerful beams of radiation (X-rays, gamma rays or charged particles) that are targeted towards cancer-affected areas of the breast in extremely controlled conditions to effectively destroy them. The therapy is given either externally by a machine outside the body (external-beam radiation therapy), or from a radioactive material judiciously placed in the organ next to the cancer cells (internal radiation therapy, also called brachytherapy).

The radiation beams destroy the cancer cells by damaging their DNA (the molecules that carry genetic information and pass it from one generation to the next). Alternatively, they also create charged particles (free radicals) within the cells that in turn damage the DNA. Once the DNA is damaged beyond repair, the Cancer cells stop dividing and die. The dead cancer cells get broken down and are eliminated by the body through the alimentary canal.

Hormonal Therapy:

In the case of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers, hormonal therapy is given to reduce the chances of recurrence after surgery and radiation. It is used for the treatment of stage 1 and stage 2 breast cancer. Estrogen and progesterone are the two female hormones, which stimulates the growth of breast cancer tumours. Hormone therapy works by blocking your body’s production of these hormones, this will help to slow the growth of cancer and it may also stop the growth of cancer.

Hormonal therapy medicines such as aromatase inhibitors, estrogen receptor down-regulators, and selective estrogen receptor modulators may be given to reduce estrogen or block its action. In certain cases, the fallopian tubes and ovaries will have to be surgically removed as a preventive measure. Alternatively, ovaries may be shut down by the use of proper medication. Note that women diagnosed with breast cancer are also at risk of ovarian cancer, and you might require ovarian cancer treatment as well.

Hormonal therapy medicines may be given even in advanced-stage or metastatic hormone-receptor-positive breast cancers. They either shrink or slow down the growth of such cancerous cells.

Chemotherapy:

Chemotherapy refers to the use of medications to shrink or destroy cancerous cells. For the treatment of breast cancer it is generally used in:

  • Early-stage invasive breast cancer (up to 2nd stage breast cancer) to destroy any cancerous cells that may have remained in the breast after the surgery and to minimize the risk of recurrence of such cancer.
  • Advanced-stage breast cancer (3rd stage breast cancer and above) to try and damage as many cancer cells as possible.

In certain cases, the use of chemotherapy may be advised before the surgery to shrink cancer. This type of chemotherapy is referred to as “neoadjuvant chemotherapy”. Chemotherapy medicines are usually given in combinations called chemotherapy regimens. In early-stage breast cancer cases, these regimens minimize the chances of recurring cancer. In advanced-stage breast cancers, they shrink cancer. Results of chemotherapy usually vary from case to case.

The chemotherapy success rate in Breast Cancer:

Most people with stage 1, 2, or 3 breast cancer undergo surgery as part of their treatment. The graph below shows the percentages of females with breast cancer who undergo treatment involving chemotherapy:

What are the side effects of breast cancer treatment?

The treatment of breast is associated with side effects that may be long-term in nature and may continue even after the treatment is over. The side effects of post-treatment/surgery may include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or Pain
  • Dental issues
  • Musculoskeletal symptoms
  • Bone loss and osteoporosis
  • Lymphedema
  • Secondary Cancers
  • Heart problems
  • Blood clots
  • Cataracts
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Absence of menstrual periods
  • Infertility
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of cognitive functions

Some of these could be late side effects and may start appearing weeks, months or even years after completing the treatment. They can, however, be addressed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle after the treatment.

What should you expect after your treatment?

The success rate of breast cancer treatment depends on how well your body responds to the treatment and in what way you manage your lifestyle. Cancer rehabilitation helps about 60 to 95% of women who survive breast cancer. Once you are through with your treatment, the next thing you need to focus on is to monitor your condition to prevent the recurrence of cancer. You may have to attend follow-up sessions with your doctor regularly to make sure things are going as per expectations. During these sessions, your symptoms of breast cancer will be physically examined for early detection of a recurrence or any new type of cancer.

How can you prepare yourself for the treatment of breast cancer?

Ok, so now that you understand what are the treatment options for breast cancer and what should you expect after it, you need to “prepare yourself” for the treatment. How do you do that?

  • The first and foremost thing that you need to do is keep yourself well informed about breast cancer, this improves your quality of life as this can make the disease seem less mysterious and frightening. Information from your doctor and other credible sources can be very helpful in this respect.
  • When a person is diagnosed with breast cancer it hurts their emotional state, so you need to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally. This can be done by being transparent with your family and friends about how you feel, the problems you have been facing so they can help you cope with your problems and uplift you emotionally. And if you are a peer or a family member of the patient, you must support them at all times by listening to them patiently as they are emotionally compromised.
  • You can avail services of a counsellor or attend group therapies consisting of people sharing their past experiences of how they dealt with breast cancer.
  • Next, you need to write down your queries, problems, any new symptoms and physical changes, medications, past medical reports and other important things that will help you to clearly express yourself to the doctor.

You will have to explain your entire medical history to your doctor before starting your treatment. This includes any illnesses you may have, any allergies to medications, the medications/herbs/vitamins that you may be taking currently. In case you are on aspirin or any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, you may be asked to stop taking them a week before your treatment begins.

To make sure there will be no complications either during or after the surgery, you may be asked to undergo a few tests such as chest x-ray, electrocardiogram, blood tests, urine test and maybe a CAT scan.

It must be noted that the stage 3 cancer survival rate and stage 4 breast cancer survival rate are lower than those of the beginning stages, so don’t hesitate, get treatment as early as possible.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Physical breast examination
  • Mammogram
  • Breast ultrasound
  • Biopsy of the breast
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the breast

Brachytherapy is used to treat early-stage breast cancers that have not spread to other parts of the body. Surgeons usually place radioactive seeds near the tumour site. The seeds stay there for a short period and work to destroy cancer cells. This type of radiation treatment is called brachytherapy.

Hormone therapy following surgery, radiation or chemotherapy has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence in people with early-stage hormone-sensitive breast cancers. Hormone therapy works by blocking your body’s production of these hormones on the cancer cells. This can help slow and possibly stop the growth of your cancer. Success rates for treatment range from 10% to 50%.

Immunotherapy is the use of medicines to stimulate a person’s immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells more effectively. Immunotherapy can be used to treat some types of breast cancer.

  • Discharge from the nipples
  • Changes in how the nipple looks
  • Lumps in the breast which is usually painless
  • Change in the skin colour or texture of the breast
  • Skin dimpling

The side effects of breast cancer treatment are:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Numbness or Pain
  • Dental issues
  • Musculoskeletal symptoms
  • Lymphedema
  • Bone loss and osteoporosis
  • Secondary Cancers
  • Heart problems
  • Blood clots
  • Cataracts
  • Menopausal symptoms
  • Absence of menstrual periods
  • Infertility
  • Sexual difficulties
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of cognitive functions

Some of these could be late side effects and may start appearing weeks, months or even years after completing the breast cancer treatment. They can be however addressed by maintaining a healthy lifestyle after the treatment.

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